Remove electricity, fuel taxes, suspend lock-offs – Paulwell

Remove electricity, fuel taxes, suspend lock-offs – Paulwell

Sunday, March 29, 2020

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KINGSTON, Jamaica— The People's National Party's (PNP) Shadow Minister on energy, Phillip Paulwell, has called for the immediate lifting of taxes on electricity and fuels as the nation continues its response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Paulwell's call comes one day after the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) issued its appeal to the Government for a zero rating of the General Consumption Tax (GCT) on electricity for both commercial and residential customers.

“With much of our economic activities being informal, the continuation of taxes on essential items such as energy and fuel during this crisis will only worsen the burden on the poor,” he said.

Paulwell said the GCT on the bills of JPS customers, and the Special Consumption Tax (SCT) on fuel purchases must be removed to ease the burden on householders, and the transport and productive sectors.

“These taxes should be removed initially for three months as Jamaicans are encouraged to stay at home, resulting in an inevitable spike in electricity usage for many without guaranteed incomes,” Paulwell said.

The opposition spokesperson also said the JPS and other utilities such as the National Water Commission (NWC) should suspend their lock-off programmes to give customers the necessary respite and opportunity to adhere to the health emergency.

He said, instead of locking off water systems and standpipes, the government should consider an aggressive programme of providing water in marginalized communities to encourage the practice of proper hygiene and sanitation.

Noting that oil prices across the world have plummeted, Paulwell also called on government to remove the taxes on fuel as part of the national response as this will bring some immediate relief to the transport and productive sectors which he said have already shown significant signs of distress and could grind to a halt.

Paulwell said the PNP stands in support of the effort by the Government and the Bank of Jamaica to stabilise the foreign exchange pricing as part of the COVID-19 response, but said the removal of the taxes will go even further in providing much-needed and instant help for families, communities and the industries.

The PNP also commended the JPS for its $45 million donation to the national effort against COVID-19 and its call for the tax removal on fuel and electricity.

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